Farewell message from the Special Envoy, Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Mr. Ján Kubiš


8 Dec 2021

Farewell message from the Special Envoy, Head of United Nations Support Mission in Libya, Mr. Ján Kubiš

Dear Libyans, dear UN colleagues,

As the last day of my tenure as the Special Envoy and Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has approached I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the UN Secretary-General and the Security Council for entrusting me with this position pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 2542 (2020). It was an honor to work on helping Libya on its path towards stability, unity, and sovereignty.

During my tenure, building on the fundaments established by my predecessors, I have worked on supporting the Libyans to resolutely take responsibility of the fate of their country in their hands, starting with the House Representatives (HoR)’s convening of a reunified session after many years of division, in which it granted the vote of confidence to the interim executive authority – the Presidency Council and the Government of National Unity, established by the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF). It was a privilege to support and accompany Libya taking the lead, ownership, and responsibility of the country, as prominently manifested in the participation of Libya as a sovereign and equal partner in critical international forums, notably, recent conferences of Berlin II and Paris Conference, and in convening the first major international conference inside Libya since the beginning of the crisis, last October, to pursue the Libyan- led/owned Stabilization initiative.

During my tenure, with the support of UNSMIL and the international community, the High National Elections Commission (HNEC) has moved steadily ahead with the preparations for the presidential and parliamentary elections, to start the polling process on 24 December 2021, as stipulated in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) Roadmap and echoed in UNSCRs 2570 and 2571, as well as Berlin II and Paris Conferences conclusions.  The holding of timely, inclusive, free, and fair presidential and parliamentary elections is critical to breaking the cycle of perennial political transitions, returning to democratic legitimacy, starting to build a truly unified, prosperous, and sovereign state, and putting an end to foreign interference. The overwhelming majority of the Libyan people want elections, while many have natural doubts and concerns, fear the unknown, and the degradation of a fierce, at times uncompromising political competition into conflict. Notwithstanding all the risks and challenges, all technical and procedural flaws and imperfections, and less than optimal conditions, this unique opportunity to start a new democratic future for Libya should not be missed. While these elections may not be the solution for all Libya’s problems, it is a critically important step that opens doors to future solutions, including a new permanent Constitution. It also opens a way out of the division, disunity, paralysis, and dysfunctional institutions without real authority - a fertile ground for foreign interference, that has further exacerbated problems and perpetuated the status quo. I appeal to all Libyans to go and vote for candidates that can guarantee unity, stability, and sovereignty based on national reconciliation, justice, accountability, democracy, rule of law, and good governance. I also appeal to all Libyan voters to give a major chance to women and young people. Abstaining from the elections and mobilizing against them, would only put the fate and the future of the country at the mercy of those inside Libya and their external backers who benefit from the present today’s debilitating and unsustainable status-quo, paralysis, and a divided, weak conflict-ridden country, and spreading instability in the region, and who prefer the power of the bullet to the power of the ballot.

On the security front, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the efforts of exemplary determination of the 5+5 Joint Military Commission (JMC), for their diligent work towards the implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement and for maintaining the ceasefire.  Their persistent efforts with the support of UNSMIL led to the reopening of the Misrata-Sirte Coastal Road, which has helped ease the movement of Libyans across the country, which resulted in a positive socio-economic and humanitarian effect on people’s lives and well-being. Also, numerous confidence-building measures were implemented, starting with the exchanges of detainees and the resumption of all flights between all regions of Libya. It was a privilege to facilitate the meetings of the 5+5 JMC in Geneva the last October that resulted in the agreement on an Action Plan for the withdrawal of mercenaries, foreign fighters, and foreign forces from Libya, in a synchronized, phased, gradual and balanced way.   This plan aligns with the Ceasefire Agreement of 23 October 2020, United Nations Security Council Resolutions 2570 and 2571 (2021), and paves the way for the initial stages of the withdrawals of mercenaries and foreign fighters as the first steps to the full implementation of the Ceasefire Agreement and relevant UNSC Resolutions. Continuing with the progress on the Action plan, UNSMIL facilitated the meetings of the 5+5 JMC with neighboring countries (Chad, Niger, Sudan) hosted by Egypt in Cairo during which a concept of a coordination mechanism was agreed, as well as meetings with the African Union in Tunis, and coordination meetings in Ankara and Moscow. I salute the patriotism, dedication, and professionalism of the 5+5 JMC; it was a great honor to work closely with them.

The reunification of Libyan institutions and their smooth functioning has been at the forefront of efforts to bring stability and unity to Libya.  In the economic area, we worked in furtherance of the report of the Financial Review of the two branches of Central Bank of Libya, that provided the information and recommendations to begin the unification process, to restore the integrity of the CBL, and improve its transparency.  The Central Bank will soon be taking serious concrete steps towards the unification of this financial institution. We have also supported the independence and integrity of the National Oil Company, given the critical role of the oil sector for Libya’s economy and for the well-being of its people.

In constant consultations with the Libyan authorities the mission and the respective UN agencies, funds and programmes have kept the human rights and humanitarian needs of the Libyans, but also migrants and refugees in the center of attention. A lot of work remains to be done, as well as massive problems to be addressed, but working together with Libya in a spirit of partnership and following the human rights and humanitarian principles and laws we have accumulated also some positive experiences we can build on, in cooperation with our traditional partners from the African Union and the European Union.

Finally, I would like to thank all Libyans, as well as leaders, authorities, and institutions of the country for welcoming me to accompany and support Libya throughout this critical juncture of its history.  I would also like to thank the UN family in Libya for their efforts in support of bringing peace, stability, unity, and prosperity to Libya and its people.

With regrets, I have concluded that for professional and personal reasons it was necessary for me to step down from my duties as the Special Envoy and Head of UNSMIL. I wish all the best to the newly-appointed Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Libya, Ms. Stephanie Williams. I remain full of hope that the Libyan people and authorities will use their wisdom to continue with the multifaceted political transformation process leading Libya to prosper as a stable, unified, and sovereign country, with the support of the UN and the broader international community, including international and regional organizations, notably the AU, EU and the League of Arab States.

May Allah bless Libya and all Libyans.